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    A 7.1MW biomass power plant to be built on the Haiwaiian island of Kaua‘i has received approval from the local Planning Commission. The plant, owned and operated by Green Energy Hawaii, will use albizia trees, a hardy species that grows in poor soil on rainfall alone. The renewable power plant will meet 10 percent of the island's energy needs. Kauai World - February 27, 2007.

    Tasmania's first specialty biodiesel plant has been approved, to start operating as early as July. The Macquarie Oil Company will spend half a million dollars on a specially designed facility in Cressy, in Tasmania's Northern Midlands. The plant will produce more than five million litres of fuel each year for the transport and marine industries. A unique blend of feed stock, including poppy seed, is expected to make it more viable than most operations. ABC Rural - February 25, 2007.

    The 16th European Biomass Conference & Exhibition - From Research to Industry and Markets - will be held from 2nd to 6th June 2008, at the Convention and Exhibition Centre of FeriaValencia, Spain. Early bird fee registration ends 18th April 2008. European Biomass Conference & Exhibition - February 22, 2007.

    'Obesity Facts' – a new multidisciplinary journal for research and therapy published by Karger – was launched today as the official journal of the European Association for the Study of Obesity. The journal publishes articles covering all aspects of obesity, in particular epidemiology, etiology and pathogenesis, treatment, and the prevention of adiposity. As obesity is related to many disease processes, the journal is also dedicated to all topics pertaining to comorbidity and covers psychological and sociocultural aspects as well as influences of nutrition and exercise on body weight. Obesity is one of the world's most pressing health issues, expected to affect 700 million people by 2015. AlphaGalileo - February 21, 2007.

    A bioethanol plant with a capacity of 150 thousand tons per annum is to be constructed in Kuybishev, in the Novosibirsk region. Construction is to begin in 2009 with investments into the project estimated at €200 million. A 'wet' method of production will be used to make, in addition to bioethanol, gluten, fodder yeast and carbon dioxide for industrial use. The complex was developed by the Solev consulting company. FIS: Siberia - February 19, 2007.

    Sarnia-Lambton lands a $15million federal grant for biofuel innovation at the Western Ontario Research and Development Park. The funds come on top of a $10 million provincial grant. The "Bioindustrial Innovation Centre" project competed successfully against 110 other proposals for new research money. London Free Press - February 18, 2007.

    An organisation that has established a large Pongamia pinnata plantation on barren land owned by small & marginal farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India is looking for a biogas and CHP consultant to help research the use of de-oiled cake for the production of biogas. The organisation plans to set up a biogas plant of 20,000 cubic meter capacity and wants to use it for power generation. Contact us - February 15, 2007.

    The Andersons, Inc. and Marathon Oil Corporation today jointly announced ethanol production has begun at their 110-million gallon ethanol plant located in Greenville, Ohio. Along with the 110 million gallons of ethanol, the plant annually will produce 350,000 tons of distillers dried grains, an animal feed ingredient. Marathon Oil - February 14, 2007.

    Austrian bioenergy group Cycleenergy acquired controlling interest in Greenpower Projektentwicklungs GmbH, expanding its biomass operational portfolio by 16 MW to a total of 22 MW. In the transaction Cycleenergy took over 51% of the company and thereby formed a joint venture with Porr Infrastruktur GmbH, a subsidiary of Austrian construction company Porr AG. Greenpower operates two wood chip CHP facilities in Upper and Lower Austria, each with an electric capacity of 2 MW. The plants have been in operation since the middle of last year and consume more than 30,000 tonnes of wood chips and are expected to generate over €5 million in additional revenue. Cycleenergy - February 6, 2007.

    The 2008 edition of Bioenergy World Europe will take place in Verona, Italy, from 7 to 10 February. Gathering a broad range of international exhibitors covering gaseous, liquid and solid bioenergy, the event aims to offer participants the possibility of developing their business through meetings with professionals, thematic study tours and an international forum focusing on market and regulatory issues, as well as industry expertise. Bioenergy World Europe - February 5, 2007.

    The World GTL Summit will take place between 12 – 14th May 2008 in London. Key topics to be discussed include: the true value of Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) projects, well-to-wheels analyses of the GTL value chain; construction, logistics and procurement challenges; the future for small-scale Fischer-Tropsch (FT) projects; Technology, economics, politics and logistics of Coal-to-Liquids (CTL); latest Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL) commercialisation initiatives. CWC Exhibitions - February 4, 2007.

    The 4th Annual Brussels Climate Change Conference is announced for 26 - 27 February 2008. This joint CEPS/Epsilon conference will explore the key issues for a post-Kyoto agreement on climate change. The conference focuses on EU and global issues relating to global warming, and in particular looks at the following issues: - Post-2012 after Bali and before the Hokkaido G8 summit; Progress of EU integrated energy and climate package, burden-sharing renewables and technology; EU Emissions Trading Review with a focus on investment; Transport Climatepolicy.eu - January 28, 2007.

    Japan's Marubeni Corp. plans to begin importing a bioethanol compound from Brazil for use in biogasoline sold by petroleum wholesalers in Japan. The trading firm will import ETBE, which is synthesized from petroleum products and ethanol derived from sugar cane. The compound will be purchased from Brazilian petrochemical company Companhia Petroquimica do Sul and in February, Marubeni will supply 6,500 kilolitres of the ETBE, worth around US$7 million, to a biogasoline group made up of petroleum wholesalers. Wholesalers have been introducing biofuels since last April by mixing 7 per cent ETBE into gasoline. Plans call for 840 million liters of ETBE to be procured annually from domestic and foreign suppliers by 2010. Trading Markets - January 24, 2007.

    Toyota Tsusho Corp., Ohta Oil Mill Co. and Toyota Chemical Engineering Co., say it and two other firms have jointly developed a technology to produce biodiesel fuel at lower cost. Biodiesel is made by blending methanol into plant-derived oil. The new technology requires smaller amounts of methanol and alkali catalysts than conventional technologies. In addition, the new technology makes water removal facilities unnecessary. JCN Network - January 22, 2007.

    Finland's Metso Paper and SWISS COMBI - W. Kunz dryTec A.G. have entered a licence agreement for the SWISS COMBI belt dryer KUVO, which allows biomass to be dried in a low temperature environment and at high capacity, both for pulp & paper and bioenergy applications. Kauppalehti - January 22, 2007.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Scientists find subtle wind variations may spur Abrupt Climate Change

German and Spanish climate scientists have found that subtle changes in wind strength can significantly influence the global climate and may even have been responsible for Abrupt Climate Change in the past. The findings, published in Geophysical Research Letters, shed light on the dynamics of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, which is the oceans' heat engine.

Abrupt Climate Change (ACC) refers to an event where a large and widespread shift in climate occurs within a short period, in time spans as short as a decade. Most of the current studies and debates on potential climate change have focused on the ongoing buildup of industrial greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and a gradual increase in global temperatures. But recent and rapidly advancing evidence demonstrates that Earth's climate repeatedly has shifted dramatically and suddenly in the past. It is conceivable that human forcing of climate change is increasing the probability of large, abrupt climate events. Analysis of past ACC events can help today's research into the eventuality of a repetition of such an event, this time induced by human activities.

Simulating the climate during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), which occurred roughly 21,000 years ago, is a major challenge for climate modeling, say Marisa Montoya of the Department of Astrophysics and Atmospheric Sciences at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and Anders Levermann of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany. In particular, the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) - also known as the Thermohaline Circulation (THC) or sometimes called the ocean conveyor belt (see image, click to enlarge)- which regulates climate by distributing heat to the world's oceans and involves deepwater formation in the North Atlantic, is poorly constrained in model scenarios.

To characterize the AMOC during the LGM, models must accurately simulate surface winds, which facilitate horizontal and vertical mixing in the ocean. Noting that wind fields during the LGM are not well understood, Montoya and Levermann model how changes in wind strength would affect AMOC strength.

By assuming that LGM wind stresses are proportional to those experienced today, the authors discover that below certain thresholds of wind strength, North Atlantic deepwater formation takes place south of Greenland and the AMOC is relatively weak. Above this threshold, deepwater formation occurs farther north, leading to a vigorous AMOC. This suggests that subtle wind variations can significantly influence climate, perhaps even spurring abrupt climate change events:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::
Were such an event to recur, the economic and ecological impacts could be large and potentially serious. Unpredictability exhibited near climate thresholds in simple models shows that some uncertainty will always be associated with projections. In light of these uncertainties, scientists have urged policy-makers to consider expanding research into ACC, improving monitoring systems, and taking actions designed to enhance the adaptability and resilience of ecosystems and economies.

One research group that was given a mandate by the G8 to study ways to avert and adapt to ACC is the Abrupt Climate Change Strategy Group (ACCS).

The key strategy which it designed to prevent ACCS is the rapid implementation of carbon-negative bioenergy systems. All coal plants would be forced to switch to biomass, which is combusted as solid biofuels to power societies, while the CO2 released from this carbon neutral energy is sequestered in geological formations. This way, "negative emissions" are generated that can turn the tide and reverse climate change.

Writing about ACC and how bio-energy with carbon storage systems (BECS) can be implemented, Dr Peter Read and Jonathan Lermit of the ACCS indicate that:
Abrupt Climate Change (ACC - NAS, 2001) is an issue that ‘haunts the climate change problem’ (IPCC, 2001) but has been neglected by policy makers up to now, maybe for want of practicable measures for effective response, save for risky geo-engineering.
Such geo-engineering plans are circulating within the scientific community but they are very costly and present major risks. Ideas include launching mirrors into space or iron seeding oceans on a massive scale. A geo-engineering idea by Nobel-Prize winner Paul Crutzen consists of filling the upper atmosphere with sulphur, to emulate the climate cooling effects of volcanos. However, this idea was soon dismissed as too risky and deadly. A number of simulations show that virtually all geo-engineering methods proposed so far present large risks that could be deemed unacceptable.

The Abrupt Climate Change Strategy Group however identified bio-energy with carbon storage (BECS) as a safe, feasible, efficient and cost-effective intervention, that performs on the scale of geo-engineering options, but allows societies to function more or less as normal.
Negative emissions energy systems are key to responding to ACC because – taking account of rising levels on non-CO2 greenhouse gases, for which no means exists for accelerating natural removal processes – the need may be to get to CO2 levels below pre-industrial. This cannot be done by natural absorption, even with zero emissions energy [such as wind, solar, nuclear].

A portfolio of Bio-Energy with Carbon Storage (BECS) technologies, yielding negative emissions energy, may be seen as benign, low risk, geo-engineering that is the key to being prepared for ACC. The nature of sequential decisions, taken in response to the evolution of currently unknown events, is discussed. The impact of such decisions on land use change is related to a specific bio-energy conversion technology. The effects of a precautionary strategy, possibly leading to eventual land use change on a large scale, is modeled. - Read and Lermit, ACCS
The advantage of BECS is that it allows societies to function in a relatively normal manner, because this geo-engineering option does not affect energy supplies. Even more, it is the only strategy that produces energy while taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere (none of the other geo-engineering strategies yield energy during their implementation).

As scientists are more and more talking terms of radically cutting global CO2 emissions, such carbon-negative bioenergy systems have become the key to achieving this aim. Negative emissions energy systems can be implemented today, at relatively low cost and by using existing infrastructures (coal plants switching to biomass; natural gas plants swithing to biogas and synthetic biomass based gas - SNG).

Montoya, M., and A. Levermann (2008), "Surface wind-stress threshold for glacial Atlantic overturning", Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L03608, doi:10.1029/2007GL032560.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: Abrupt Climate Change.

Abrupt Climate Change Strategy Group

P. Read and J. R. Lermit, "Bio-energy with carbon storage (BECS): a sequential decision approach to the threat of abrupt climate change", Energy, November 2005, vol. 30, no14, pp. 2654-2671 [*pdf - link to full article located at ACCStrategy].

Biopact: Abrupt Climate Change and geo-engineering the planet with carbon-negative bioenergy - December 21, 2006


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